User Centred Design

The term ‘User Centred Design’ is often used when we apply ergonomics principles to product design.

In broad terms, User Centred Design (UCD) is both a design philosophy and a design process. As a philosophy, it makes the needs, wants, and limitations of the end user of a product the priority focus, and as a process it offers designers a range of methods and techniques to ensure this focus is sustained through the various stages of design.

The UCD process not only helps designers to analyse and foresee how users are likely to use a product, but also to assess their assumptions about people’s behaviour in realistic tests with actual users. Such testing is necessary as it is often very difficult for designers to understand intuitively what a first-time user of their design will experience, and what each user’s learning curve may look like. The chief difference from other design philosophies is that UCD tries to optimise the design around how users can, want, or need to use the product, rather than forcing them to change their behaviour to accommodate the product.

Find out more about UCD

If you want to find out more about UCD, together with hints and tips on the process through exploration, creation and evaluation of ideas and products, and much more on all aspects of human factors, see our website on Designing for People.

Get your free teacher's guide to UCD

The Design for Real People Action Group, in collaboration with the CIEHF, has been working over the past few years to support the introduction of User Centred Design (UCD) into Design and Technology teaching in schools. A new guide has been published which is intended to be an introduction to the teaching of UCD and to provide support to teachers and their students.

The guide is free to download. Get your copy by completing the request form, after which you will receive a link to the guide on screen and by email.


"A stunning resource" The Design And Technology Association

"Great resource. I think its value extends beyond the needs of teachers - there are a ton of UX-focused communities who'd find it useful. You should share this among them!" T R-R, specialist in user experience, HCI and human factors